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Henri Michaux, poet-painter

Halasz, Alison Vort (2007) Henri Michaux, poet-painter. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Henri Michaux's trip to the Far East in 1930-1931 became a point of departure for his career-long inquiry into the relation between language and image which led him to combine the poetic and the pictorial as a way to relieve tensions within his divided self. For over sixty years, the Belgian-born (1899-1984) poet-painter created text-only, image-only, and over twenty text-and-image works. The merging of language and image in Michaux's text-and-image projects breaks down divisions between these two arts and consequently moves away from G. E. Lessing's separation of the arts. This departure from the modernist view of literature and art positions Michaux as a transitional figure: as a practitioner between arts, cultures, and period styles. Just as Michaux's divided self came together to a certain degree from his creative work, so too did his work obtain a unity of the poetic and the pictorial that blended into one kind of expression. Although Michaux combined words and images to explore the self, this activity led to the parallel development of Michaux as a poet-painter and to a merging relation between the verbal and the visual.This dissertation explores Michaux's transformation into a hybrid artist and the works he produced between 1922 and 1984. The initial chapter approaches the biographical features contributing to Michaux's career as a poet-painter and how mixing media was essential to his practice. The following chapter frames the relations of words and images in a theoretical context, focusing on Lessing's separation of the sister arts and on W. J. T. Mitchell's opposing view, in which he considers language and image not as separate forms of expression but instead as overlapping forms. This framework serves as the methodology for approaching Michaux's corpus and this analysis situates his mixed-media work in relation to writers and artists like Guillaume Apollinaire and René Magritte. The final chapter presents case studies of the verbal-visual overlap in Michaux's text-and-image projects and his poetic inquiry into his own visual art and that of other artists. These constructions illustrate the diversity within Michaux's work while showing the unity within his text-and-image corpus.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Halasz, Alison
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairRussell, Danielrussell@pitt.eduRUSSELL
Committee CoChairHatcher, Robertahatcher@pitt.eduHATCHER
Committee MemberHearn, Millard F.fih@pitt.eduFIH
Committee MemberWatts, Philipwatts@pitt.eduWATTS
Date: 19 September 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 15 June 2007
Approval Date: 19 September 2007
Submission Date: 24 June 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > French
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Belgian; painting; poetry; text-and-image; Henri Michaux; poet-painter
Other ID:, etd-06242007-122834
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:48
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:45


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